Ken Grimm 2002

2005 in Retrospect

    Now 2005 is almost at a close, and it is time to look back over the year and reflect.  What a year it has been!  So much of what happened earlier this year seems to be more than an age ago, so much so that much of what was before 2005 seems more recent than the early parts of this year.  On this day last year, I had no clue of the things that were about to transpire, the places I would go or the things that I would be doing in 2005.

Badavapeta Church of Christ

    Just as historians date centuries from dates other than the zero year (thus the 19th century may be said to be from the fall of Napoleon to the outbreak of WWI), 2005 for me began at 6:30 AM local time on 26 December 2004, when I was awakened by an earthquake happening a thousand miles away just off the coast of Aceh, Indonesia.  Four and one-half hours later the tsunami slammed into the coast of South India, changing millions of lives forever, mine included.  Soon I has deep in process of assessing tsunami damage and facilitating the channeling of funds from the churches in America to the tsunami-stricken people of India through the Indian churches.

    At the same time I was just beginning to work into my new role as a volunteer for Lifeline of Hope, visiting and photo-documenting one orphanage and sending co-workers to visit another as they traveled on tsunami-damage survey.  At that time I had only known of the existence of Lifeline of Hope for three months, and I certainly did not know that within a year I would be working full-time for Lifeline.

Pastors Seminar, Vijayawada
    Also at that time I was able to continue, partially, with my series of seminars for preachers and pastors, holding one more seminar in Errebalam, Guntur District but canceling the one in Machillipatanam because of a time conflict with the arrival of the American team from HHI.

tsunami damage assessment
    I was asked by Don Yelton of Whites Ferry Road Church of Christ Disaster Relief to assess the tsunami damage, particularly to the Churches of Christ and their members.  With the help of Indian brethren I was ale to make a detailed assessment of the nearest three districts, and to make reasonable estimates of the remaining twenty.  Then I was asked by Healing Hands International of Nashville, Tennessee (HHI) to arrange accommodations, itinerary and transportation for a team they were sending from the USA.  When that team arrived, I was able to meet them with itineraries, translators and rail tickets, and to accompany one of the teams as they traveled up and down the coast evaluation damage and making arrangements for relief.  (For more about the work in India, see my  India report).
Liberty Lake, Maryland, USA
    When I left India in March, my plan was to stay in the USA a few months, raise support, and then return to India to complete my Telugu studies, become fluent in that language, and continue the work of teaching and mentoring preachers and pastors in Andhra Pradesh, India. However, raising support proved more difficult than I had hoped, and I set out to temporarily resume either my old career of computer design engineer or my recent occupation of schoolbus driver.  But computer jobs were in short supply, and a petty and spiteful decision of a minor bureaucrat blocked me from driving a schoolbus.  But God had other plans, because if I had had either of those jobs I would not have been free to go off to Africa on short notice.
Rumbek, Sudan
    For nearly thirty years I had been involved in missions to Sudan in the "holding the baggage" role and as an encourager of those who actually went.  For the past half-dozen years I had helped the refugees from Sudan in the USA in various ways.  But I had no idea that in 2005 I would actually be going to Sudan, and not only to South Sudan, but to Khartoum, the capitol of the oppressive and genocidal Muslim government.  But at the beginning of June, I received a phone call from Deborah Martin, who with her husband Henry had been missionaries to Sudan dating back to 1981.  Henry and Deborah had been invited by the SPLM (Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement, the political wing of the SPLA) to attend the inauguration of John Garang, chairman of the SPLA, as First Vice-President of the Republic of the Sudan.  Two days later I had my invitation to be part of the SPLA/SPLM delegation from Tennessee as the delegation's photographer.  By the first week in July I was in Nairobi.
Henry and Deborah Martin
    The Martins, meanwhile, had ended up flying into Khartoum straight from London, after having narrowly escaped the bombings there.  So with the help of God and the Christians among the Sudanese refugees in Kenya, I was able a few days later to meet with the SPLM and fly with them on a chartered airliner to Khartoum.  That night, I was quartered with a group of SPLA (Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army) officers.  The next morning, I met up with the Martins, who announced to their friends "We have found the lost Kwaja (white person)."
al-Basheer & other dignitaries
    Later that day, we crowded into the big tent on the grounds of the Presidential Palace with dozens of heads of state, about a hundred diplomats, and fifteen-hundred other guests for the inauguration.  Only three-hundred seats had been reserved for the SPLM, so it was a very high honor for us to be given seats.  Apart from the State Department employees and a few returned Sudanese refugees, we were the only guests from the USA.  I was hustled into the press corps area with the photographers from BBC and al-Jazeera, and I joined in the "media feeding frenzy" when Koffi Annan entered the tent and took his seat.
    First al-Basheer was sworn in as President of the new coalition government, then Dr. Garang was sworn in as First Vice President, finally Taha was sworn in as Second Vice President.  By the terms of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed 9 January 2005, the head of the SPLA is ex-officio the First Vice President of the Republic of Sudan, and also President of the Autonomous Region of South Sudan.
rejoicing in Khartoum
    Then we spent three days in Khartoum rejoicing with the officers of the SPLA over an end to twenty-five years of war.  There was also serious business to be done as each of us had to find the appropriate officials of the new government and begin discussions of how we could help in the rebuilding process.  In my case, this meant finding the officials in charge of programs for the care of orphans, because Lifeline of Hope, who had sent me to Sudan, wants to become a part of the solution to this massive problem.
meetings in Khartoum
    Before our rejoicing and our business was complete, the Southern Sudanese officials began flying south to their new provisional capitol at Rumbek, and they asked us to join them there.  So, with only one bag packed for three days in a hotel in a modern city in the desert, off I flew in a Russian troop-transport to a tent camp for three weeks in the jungle in the rainy season.
Salva Kiir
    While there, we were able to meet with many of the cabinet members, governors and other leaders of the southern government, including Deborah Martin's particular friend Salva Kiir, who welcomed her and Henry with open arms.  Salva had been the military head of the SPLA for years, and at that time was Vice President of South Sudan.  God tremendously blessed our time in Rumbek.  He opened the doors and provided the opportunities for us to be of service to the new government in ways that cemented the bonds of friendship between ourselves and them.
children, Rumbek, Sudan
    Also while in Rumbek the cabinet members in whose responsibilities include orphan care were particularly interested in a vision for culturally appropriate childcare centers, and asked me to develop this as a model program for the entire South.
Dr. John Garang, 1945-2005
    Too soon we had to leave, but the Martins had responsibilities waiting for them in Nashville and I was prostrated by a systemic fungal infection.  In Nairobi I was able to get the appropriate medicine, and one day later the Martins flew to the USA, leaving me in the care of the Sudanese community in Nairobi.  The next next day we began to hear disquieting rumors, then on Monday we were shocked to hear the rumors confirmed: Dr. John Garang had died in a helicopter crash.  Everyone braced for a resumption of the twenty-five years of war so recently ended.  Fortunately, the war never came.  Salva Kiir, now First Vice President of Sudan and President of South Sudan, skillfully led his people through the crisis and what little violence did break out quickly died away.
memorial service
    But my plans for the month of August were shattered, as my hosts were key figures in Dr. John's funeral arrangements.  So I was handed over to another part of the Sudanese community, and made new plans.
Kampala, Uganda
    Lifeline of Hope had been for some time sponsoring two orphanages in Uganda, and had just begun sponsoring three orphanages in Kenya.  In addition, an orphanage in or near Yei, South Sudan, had applied for assistance from Lifeline, but the evaluation process had not been completed because of the lack of volunteers to go to Yei in the midst of a civil war and make an on-site inspection.  Yei has a bad reputation for landmines casualties even within the city limits.  There were other reasons no-one wanted to go to Yei which I was not aware of.  So I decided that I would go to Yei, do the on-site evaluation and photo-document the orphanage.  Then if possible on my way back to Nairobi I would visit and photograph the orphanages in Uganda.
the road to Yei
    The trip from Nairobi to Kampala, the capitol of Uganda, takes twelve to fourteen hours by bus.  We arrived in Kampala on a Saturday, and I elected to stay over Sunday, both to rest and to go to church. Then on Monday very early we set out on the fourteen or more hour bus ride to Yei.  At Murchison Falls we had to wait while a convoy was formed; I assumed it was to prevent people from stopping and poaching game in the national park.  But it was very curious how many hulks of tanks and armored cars we saw abandoned along the road.  My main worry was the condition of the road. It was raining, and the bus was sliding all over the dirt road.  Two buses ahead of us slid out of control into the ditch.  But we arrived safely in Yei at last.
Yei, Sudan
    The next day I was able to visit the orphanage at its "secret location" in the middle of a teak plantation.  While in Yei we heard that the road we had just traveled was closed due to mud and high water.  When it re-opened, we took the bus back to Kampala.  In Kampala, I finally found out the real reason no-one would visit the orphanage in Yei.  The road I had just traveled twice went through territory controlled by the Lords Resistance Army (LRA), one of the most vicious terrorist groups on the planet.  Which explains the burnt-out armored vehicles along the road.
children at FreshFire Orphanage
    Visiting the orphanages in Jinja, Uganda, was not nearly so difficult or dangerous, it merely required a helmet-less motorcycle ride on a rough mountain road.  And the children of course are beautiful. Then I returned to Nairobi.
Lifeline of Hope Orphanage, Tuni, India
    It was at about this time that Lifeline of Hope invited me to join that organization fulltime.  It took several weeks to work out the details, but I was glad to accept the offer from the beginning.  I had already formulated a vision of what I think is the best model for Christian missions from the USA (and other First World countries) to the Third World in the Twenty-First Century, and the work that Lifeline of Hope is doing conforms exactly to that vision.  (see )
Liberty Lake, Maryland, USA
    In October, I was able to attend the World Mission Workshop; this year it was at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, USA.
Badavapeta, Vijayawada, India
    In November, I packed all my things (my home is now "on the road") and set out for India.  I was only there a short time, visiting one orphanage and making plans with my translator and other assistants for my work there in January and February.
Carmen, Bohol, Philippines
    At the beginning of December I flew via Hong Kong to Cebu, Philippines and the next day took ship for Bohol, where I am today. Earlier this week I flew to southern Mindanao to visit an urban children's ministry and a rural tribal evangelism and assistance work. Orphanages have been proposed for both locations and these sites needed to be evaluated.  In the first week of January I will take the ferry to northern Mindanao to visit an orphanage already sponsored by Lifeline.
children, Guntur District, A.P., South India
    In the second week of January I fly back to India.  That will be, I think, the appropriate punctuation mark to say is the real conclusion of 2005 for me.

New Year2005, Vijayawada
Kenneth A. Grimm
Christmas 2005

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Edited 1 April 2007